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Central Neighborhood Improvement Association Records

Identifier: M/A 0288

Description of Contents

This collection documents the activities of the Central Neighborhood Improvement Association (CNIA) from 1979-2004. Records include board meeting minutes, annual reports, correspondence, legal and financial documents. Additional files in this collection detail the Minneapolis Community Development Association partnership as well as programs, projects, and studies conducted by CNIA. A series of photographs from 1991-2003 document a range of CNIA activities.

Materials are divided into fourteen series. The largest of these series are the Board Meetings Series and Project and Programs Series. About the Organization, found within the General Series, and the Board Orientation Handbook, found within the Annual Meeting Series, are easy access points to the collection. Programs related to neighborhood revitalization such as the 4th and Lake Street Project are well documented. The bulk of materials date from the late 1980s through the 1990s. Additional descriptive information is included at the beginning of each series.


  • Creation: 1981 - 2004



The collection is available for use in Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library during the department's open hours.


The Central Neighborhood Improvement Association (CNIA) was established in 1980 by residents who had a desire to work together to reduce crime in the area. CNIA was the official neighborhood organization for Minneapolis’ Central Community until the early 2000s. The Central Community lies between Lake Street in the north, 38th Street in the south, Chicago Avenue in the east, and 2nd Avenue in the West.

In 1980, CNIA organized to become the non-profit 501(c)3 that represented the neighborhood. Initially, the organization raised funds and received grant money to support its work, but when the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) began providing funding to neighborhood organizations in the early 1990s, CNIA took on an expanded role.

Membership was open to all members of the community, and the Board included the following categories: homeowners, renters, business owners, the poor, youth, ethnic groups, agency directors, neighborhood workers, and senior citizens. There were no membership dues. CNIA held regular monthly board meetings whose minutes were published and distributed widely by email and mail.

While CNIA had many successes, it was particularly skillful in drawing in funding and establishing working partnerships with foundations, government agencies, and other non-profits. The organization had a working relationship with the two major funders for neighborhood development in Minneapolis: the McKnight Foundation and the James Ford Bell Foundation.

In May 2000, CNIA was taken over in a well-organized effort by the self-titled “Blue Crew” at CNIA’s Annual Meeting. A new slate of board members said to be more representative of the racially diverse neighborhood was elected. Jana Metge, CNIA Executive Director, was fired by the new board on May 18, 2000. Metge sued the organization claiming her firing by a new board majority was discriminatory and breached her employment contract.

A special meeting and recall election were held on September 20, 2000, but the newly elected board survived in a 120-104 vote. Ousted former board members filed grievances with the city alleging that improper notice was given for the recall election, that voters were not asked to prove they live or work in the neighborhood as requested in a recall petition, and that the vote was improperly counted.

The new board’s failure to repay a James Ford Bell grant and its inability to secure new NRP funds led to CNIA’s eventual demise. The Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization (CANDO) rose out of CNIA’s Weed and Seed program to take its place. In 2006, CANDO was recognized by the city as the official registered 501(c)3 non-profit representing the Central neighborhood.


6.42 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials


Donor Information

This collection was donated by Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization in May 2013 as accession 2013.03.

Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

CNIA newsletter: The Community Word (1979-2003, incomplete) in Special Collections Periodicals

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Bailey Diers in 2013. Additions and reprocessing by Amelia Foster in April 2022.

Most of the collection was not received in its original order, with the exception of folders from the 1980s and early 1990s in box one (annual meeting, executive committee minutes, annual reports, board orientation, long range plan, CNIA priorities, Clean Sweep, forms, and fliers). The remaining collection was delivered in random order and was sorted into 15 series. Materials in binders were removed and placed in folders, except for two photo albums, which remain as they arrived. Duplicate materials were discarded. Processing was financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Central Neighborhood Improvement Association Records
Bailey Diers and Amelia Foster
August 2013 and May 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.